March 02, 2012
from BuzzFlash Website
I have always been a bit skeptical about some of the more salacious claims made in John Perkins' Confessions of An Economic Hit Man, the story of one man's life working for the secretive National Security Agency or NSA.
When he was a young man, NSA interrogators interviewed Perkins and explored his,
Perkins' fit the NSA's psychological profile, and after being accepted into the organization's shadowy ranks, he landed a corporate job working as an economist with a major consulting firm.
It was all a cover, however, for
Perkins' real purpose: as a self-described "economic hit man," the youth was
dispatched to poor Latin American countries such as Panama and Ecuador where
he was tasked with cheating governments out of money and funneling cash from
the coffers of
the World Bank into the hands of major corporations and
For example, the author discusses a mysterious woman "consultant" at his firm named Claudine who came to be the young man's teacher.
Later, Perkins remarks of Claudine,
The author adds,
The e-mails, which were apparently stolen by hacking group Anonymous, were later disclosed by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks.
The cache, which reportedly numbers a whopping 5 million e-mails, reveals the inner workings of a company which provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations but also key U.S. agencies such as,
Some of the e-mails are strikingly candid and provide insight into Stratfor's slippery and underhanded psychological methods which are not so far removed from what Perkins describes in his book.
Today, Washington is not so focused on Ecuador as in Perkins' day but Venezuela, a pesky populist ringleader of the left in Latin America.
who is interested in long-range geopolitical trends, requested that one of
his analysts, Rheba Bhalla, find out more about Hugo Chávez's state of
health and the larger political ramifications for Venezuela if the country's
firebrand president should falter.
In one e-mail exchange, Bhalla explains that the Venezuelan military had been "most cooperative with us lately."
On the other hand, Bhalla concedes that her contact, a "well-connected VZ source working with Israel," isn't too reliable.
In terms of trust, her source only rated a modest "B-," though,
In something out of John Le Carré gobbledygook, Bhalla adds that her
"alpha" source required "special handling."
Always the Godfather, Friedman adds,
Defensive and eager to please, Bhalla writes back,
Seeking to prove her meddle in the bizarre psycho babble of Stratfor, Bhalla adds,
Perhaps, Bhalla had grown weary of being a mere analyst and, like Perkins, yearned for more power. If that was the case, then it seems she finally got her wish.
In a follow up exchange, Friedman explains over his blackberry that it was time to,
In the event that a given source was deemed to have value, Friedman writes,
Further indulging his penchant for spook speech, Friedman then declares that,
According to her online bio, she is a graduate of Georgetown University's Security Studies program of the School of Foreign Service, a haven for spooks and intelligence folk. One associate professor, Elizabeth Stanley, worked as a U.S. Army captain in military intelligence.
According to the Georgetown web site, Stanley has experience in something called "mindfulness techniques" and created,
As the founder of the "Mind Fitness Training Institute,"
Stanley instructed soldiers as well as "organizations operating in
high-stress operational environments" in psychological methods.
According to the blurb for one book, Analyzing Intelligence,
The Georgetown program helps its students acquire employment at various entities specializing in destabilization and intelligence work in Latin America, including the CIA and FBI.
In addition, students may gain employment at private corporations which have played a role in Venezuela such as SAIC or alternatively work for the public/private International Republican Institute linked to Senator John McCain [for more on both of these outfits see my first book].
In opting for Stratfor, however, Friedman analyst Bhalla seems to have done quite well for herself.
In a few short
years, the young woman became a sought after commentator on Latin America
and Venezuela, being featured in and cited by diverse media outlets
including CNN, National Public Radio, FOX News, The O'Reilly Factor and The
New York Times no less.
Whether it is individuals acting from within the U.S. government or outside, such techniques have been widely embraced. Indeed, if anything the Stratfor cables echo many of the revelations stemming from earlier WikiLeaks disclosures.
To be sure, U.S.
diplomats are not instructed to sleep with their sources, but many of them
display the very same curious interest in domination and control.
Prior to Néstor's recent death, Secretary of State Clinton personally wrote to the American Embassy in Buenos Aires, remarking that the U.S. was drawing up,
Clinton added that State had a pretty "solid understanding" of Néstor's style and personality, but Cristina remained a mystery.
Specifically, Clinton wanted to know how Cristina, an Hugo Chávez ally in the wider region, managed "her nerves and anxiety." Somewhat bizarrely, Clinton then asked her subordinates whether Cristina was taking any medications.
and again, the Secretary of State pressed for details about Cristina's
psychological and emotional profile.
Take for example U.S. ambassador in Tegucigalpa Charles Ford, who held Honduran president and Hugo Chávez protégé Manuel Zelaya in low regard.
In one cable disclosed by WikiLeaks, Ford remarks almost casually,
There's got to be more to this story.
Are we to believe that Zelaya would simply show up at Ford's house and take a psychological test? Why would this have occurred to Zelaya in the first place? What kind of test was it? Interestingly enough, just like Clinton, Ford was very interested in personal medical matters.
At one point, he wrote,
Though Stratfor's methods are extreme, the WikiLeaks cables reveal that psychological control is very much on the minds of official U.S. policymakers as well.
Will further WikiLeaks disclosures embarrass and shame Stratfor employees, prompting them to come clean and abandon their unsavory work? The track record is hardly encouraging. In the wake of the earlier Cable Gate scandal, not a single U.S. diplomat operating in Latin America came clean to the public and the media about their role throughout the wider region.
Perhaps, such officials were afraid of losing their jobs, or alternatively saw nothing wrong in what they were doing.
Whatever the case, it suggests that brave figures such as John Perkins are in the minority...